Street Hassle

New Skool Versus Old School in Greenwich Village

Not many quality-of-life crusaders have considered the way these laws are actually enforced. Nor are the police about to hip them to the facts. The department won't reveal how many people of color are charged with petty offenses in Greenwich Village. It would be "racial profiling" to keep such statistics, one Sixth Precinct official told the Voice. But Robert Gangi, executive director of the Correctional Association of New York, can make an educated guess from his visits to the pens where people who have just been arrested are held. "One of the things that's startling is how rarely you see a white face," Gangi says. "And the great majority of charges against these defendants are quality-of-life crimes."

The party that is Christopher Street: Kids call it freedom; residents call it an offense to the quality of life.
photo: Staci Schwartz
The party that is Christopher Street: Kids call it freedom; residents call it an offense to the quality of life.

Jesse Ehrensaft-Hawley remembers the guy who shared his holding cell after they were busted on West Street Thursday night. He was a 35-year-old Latino nabbed for smoking a joint. It was his second such offense, and he was very worried. "I was just trying to relax after a hard day's work," Jesse recalls him saying. He had come to the Village to chill, but he ended up with a second strike.

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